Following the German invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941, Churchill and Stalin secretly agreed that Britain would infiltrate Soviet agents into occupied Western Europe. Liaison began between the NKVD and the SOE, each country's secret service. Transported in convoys across the Arctic Ocean and often attacked by German U-Boats, thirty-four men and women arrived in Scotland. To stop people finding out that Britain was helping the Communists, the agents were given false identities and provided with accommodation and training at remote country houses in southern England, including Beaulieu. Codenamed PICKAXES, they were sent for parachute practice at Ringway aerodrome, provided with documents, cover stories and wireless sets and sent on clandestine missions into France, Belgium, Holland, Austria, Germany and Italy. Whilst most were sent from RAF Tempsford, Churchill's Most Secret airfield, one was sent by boat across the Channel and another by submarine into Northern Italy. Only a few survived the war as most were caught, interrogated and executed. Based on extensive research, Bernard O'Connor tells their human stories enmeshed in a web of political intrigue and diplomacy.